Paris attacks key suspect charged with ‘terrorist murder’

Brussels: The key suspect of Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was charged on Saturday with “terrorist murders and participation in the activities of a terrorist group”, said the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office in a statement.

His lawyer Sven Mary says Abdeslam is working with justice after being brought before the investigating judge on Saturday but he refuses against extradition, Xinhua reported.

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An extradition request was made by the French judicial authorities. French President Francois Hollande said on Friday that he “had confidence in the successful completion of the extradition request”.

Abdeslam will spend the next days in detention in Bruges, the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in Belgium.

According to Francois Molins, the Paris prosecutor, Abdeslam said during his hearings in Belgium on Saturday that “he wanted to blow himself up at Stade de France and he backtracked”.

One of the most wanted men in Europe and November 13, 2015 Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam was shot and arrested in a police raid in the Molenbeek area of Brussels on Friday.

“We got him,” the Belgian justice minister told reporters.

French president François Hollande had said an operation was under way in Brussels linked to the Paris attacks. Gunshots and explosions were heard in the Molenbeek area.

The police operation in Molenbeck was launched just as Belgian prosecutors confirmed that Abdeslam’s fingerprints had been found at a flat that was raided in the Forest area of Brussels on Tuesday. Two suspects fled that raid.

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national who grew up in Brussels, fled Paris for Belgium by car hours after the November 13 attacks which killed 130 people. He is believed to have played a key role in organising the attacks.

Police believe he played a key role in the logistics of the Paris attacks and escorted the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the Stade de France as part of the coordinated attacks.

Mortar attack kills 13 policemen in Egypt’s Sinai

Cairo, March 20 (IANS) A mortar attack on a security checkpoint in Egyptian restive North Sinai’s El-Arish city killed 13 policemen on Saturday.

A police officer and seven conscripts were killed when a mortar shell hit the security checkpoint in al-Safa neighborhood south of the city, Xinhua cited state-run MENA news agency as saying.

Police cordoned the scene of the attack, while a search operation to track the attackers was launched, MENA added.

Egypt has been facing anti-government attacks, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula, which has killed hundreds of police and army personnel since 2013.

Most of the attacks have been claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militant group, which has changed its name to “Sinai State” and declared loyalty to the Islamic State.

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